Making the move to HR Manager


Has anyone got any advice, or would be willing to share their own story, of moving up to an HR Manager role please?

I am an HRBP, and keen to progress my career, but all the HR Manager vacancies either seem to be stand-alone HR roles at small companies (small pay too) which I am not really interested in, or want someone who is already a Manager. I'm finding it hard to identify how to be considered as a first time HR Manager. I do have extensive team management experience from 15 years ago, but switched careers then to HR and started at the bottom.

Any advice? Thank you.

  • A lot of places treat HR Business Partners as the same hierarchical level as HR Managers. You might try looking for a role in a small-ish team where HR Business Partners have line-management responsibility and move from their into a Head of HR type role.
  • Those standalone roles are what you're looking for. In a growing business, they offer the best opportunity to increase the HR team, and add direct management of subordinates to your CV. It is, imo, both normal and correct to seek experience in people management from new hires looking for a role in people management. The other option is to stay in place and press for opportunities to take on management responsibility within your existing team. But I tend to think that an HRBP shouldn't have direct management responsibility as this dilutes the value of the role.
  • The HRBP "title" was indeed invented, several years ago now, to replace HR Officer and/or HR Manager in many businesses to avoid HR "interference" through their "management" titles upsetting poor hard-done-by line managers authoritarian games with their "peasantry" of subordinates.... In some workplaces the same still applying, but in most the roles and duties of HRM and HRBP are pretty much interchangeable as Robey suggests.

    What remains quite common, regrettably, is the lack of understanding (or possibly interest) regarding HR qualifications and practice, so many workplaces simply want to bring in what they perceive as a "one size fits all" HR manager/BP who has previously held that role, regardless of qualification or really meaningful experience. As can be repeatedly read on these threads, that applies all the way from HR admin' roles upwards; getting the "next step up" is frequently a catch 22, so it can be necessary to either step back in pay or company size to get the necessary "title" and then, having gained the badge, step back up in size, pay and company-status later.

    What the answer is I don't know (or rather, I do, it's to become a registered profession where no-one gets to call themselves an "HR Professional" without registration, just as with Solicitors, Chartered Accountants, or Gas-fitters) but that requires a shift of focus many people seem not to want....for some reason). For now, however, the answer remains that often some maneuvering must be done to find the right role to move upward from.

    That (rather negative) view given however, those roles are out there for the finding, and hopefully one of the (few) positives of the current situation will be that HR, and its flexible and efficient practices determining "how" people should be managed to maximise their contributions, might at last be becoming recognised as more than a box-ticking placement exercise by company Strategic Managements. So we might (with a little prodding from the right people) at last see HR as a whole recognised as being a true, strategic, "Business Partner" and not just an alternative role for "payroll" or "meeting note-taker".


  • Getting the next step in a career is a tricky one. Job titles vary, levels vary and the size, scope and salary for roles varies which creates confusion for those wanting to advance their career.

    I always hope that employers have a potential employee in mind when drafting adverts and JDs to get the right balance between selling the role and explaining it so new employees can work out the content, position, whether it's a step up and what they will exactly be doing. Sadly, many JDs seem to be a one way employer view with a tick list that is long of things they want and many potential candidates de-select themselves when they don't match the ideal. It's a bit sad considering as HR professionals we should be thinking employee experience and talent development in our own backyards as well as in the businesses we work with (in my case) or in.

    Personally, I'd recommend some coaching support as you navigate your next move. I used a coach a couple of times at key points in my permanent career change moves and I never regretted the investment. I'd get them to help create you to a fab CV & online profile/s, which showcases all your skills - even those team management, pre-HR days experience and they can also support you when you get to interview stage.

    I wouldn't discount a standalone role or a move into a bigger company with scope to move up even if the first role you do is a lateral one or you could try and get career development where you are as has been suggested below.

    Good luck and keep plugging away.
  • Hi Fiona,
    Have you got a plan to progress to your ideal HR Manager position? What is your timescale? Perhaps taking on the stand-alone HR role for a year or two would put you in a prime position to apply for something more to your liking in the future? Combining your HRBP experience and coming from an HR manager role would make you a strong candidate and give you more choice.